Its now Thursday and I’ve had enough time to reflect on last Saturdays Cross Country event at Peterlee. The weather was bleak. It had rained all Friday night and continued through most of Saturday. It was grim. It looked grim. it was cold, cold and grim.
The turnout at this seasons penultimate xc was, therefore, well down. Only 350 finishers in the mens event.
I had sat in the car and changed my spikes from the pathetic stumps that I’d been using quite happily over the previous few months to some silver 12mm beauties that looked like they were fresh from a B horror movie. Keeping my OMM tights on, I was almost ready to go.
At the entrance to the farm, an old gadgie sporting a fluorescent safety jacket had taken £2 off me for parking before his partner in grime had ushered my old Renault onto a sloppy bog. I parked as close as I could to the entrance track which was gravelled but I was still on the soft grass. I looked down the hill where there were snaking soft ruts of mud and knew I’d be lucky to get out without a push or tow. ‘ We’ve got a tractor’ was the confident mantra the gadgie was rolling out to all and sundry as they pointed us into the deepening quagmire. The course for the xc wasn’t any better; and there was no club tent; instead a club flag was flapping, solitary and godforsaken in the strengthening wind. We were pleased when Aurora offered their facilities for us to stow away our bags.
The womens race was up next and I watched the youngster finish 7th and Mrs Mac some way further behind. I tried to get some fotos, but the light was poor. Did I mention it was grim. Grim and cold... and windy. Mrs Mac was wearing my vest as she'd lost hers, so I ended using the youngsters vest for my event. This was a 36 inch chest, I guess, and I knew it was too tight even as I pulled it over my head. It wasn't a good idea. I adopted a ‘lets get it over with’ mentality. It was 3 x two mile laps and off we went after a little delay. It wasn’t really possible to drop into a regular pace as the mud, divets and pools of running water draining from the nearby fields sucked relentlessly at your spikes; frequent buried cobbles and boulders grabbing at your feet. I was buoyed up by knowing I had a couple of millimetres more than I normally had down there (oo,er).
On the second lap I began flagging a little. The borrowed vest, my little straight jacket, was constraining my breathing. I needed all the air I could get, but was working on eighty or ninety percent; I was stuck with it. I felt like ripping it off.
Some way along where it was uber-muddy ponds- slop-gunge (you get the idea) , I must have caught a spike on a submerged rock and went down, 'Splodge' , landing on my left side and only just managing to keep my face above the murky primeval glug. I emerged like I was a dude from Glastonbury and all of my left side was caked in muddy slime. The beast from the bog. My borrowed formerly blue and white vest could have been mistaken for a 'HBT' affair: But no course was gonna beat me, and on I went grinding out a lamentable pace which slowed even further over the 3rd lap. I couldn’t even be bothered to tuck in behind Smith from Saltwell as he passed by and I finished 76th after summoning no speed at all in the long final straight. To rub salt into the grubby wound, we didn’t even manage to finish a team, so I might as well have stopped in the car and painted my nails.
The clean up at home was quite like some of the cyclo-cross events that I’ve ridden and I was happy to immerse myself after an hour of cleaning shoes, scrubbing kit and generally trying to rid myself of the mud. Don’t even start with the good for the complexion thing. One to forget.
On the upside, Jim Richards ‘Gold Rush’ is nearly finished and I’ve really enjoyed reading about the adventures of an errant geologist. It looks like CJ Sansom’s Lamentations is the next literary stop. Next stop this Saturdays Signals Relays. All aboard.